Poke Hale Grindz Opens with Old Favorites and New Finds
By Wendy Osher
The shave ice and red hot dogs that were a staple at Tom’s Mini Mart in Paukūkalo have returned under a new owner and different name. Poke Hale Grindz opened today under the ownership of Anthony Vargas, Jr., with old favorites and new finds.
“We were smashed today,” said Vargas who described opening day business as, “a steady flow of customers,” with a couple hundred individuals filing through the doors throughout the day.
Vargas said he’s using the same shave ice machine from the old Tom’s Mini Mart, whose owners trained him in how to operate it. The same add-ons of ice cream, azuki beans and mochi balls can still be found on the menu.
Aside from familiar favorites, Poke Hale Grindz features fresh, never frozen, custom poke to order, with choices that include: tobiko, mayo, chili pepper–and for the adventurous, peanut butter. There’s also taro poke on the menu, a mix of kalo cubes prepared poke style.
While the bulk of business caters to the lunch crowd, with daily specials on the menu, the store also carries snacks, convenience items, and cotton candy on a stick.
The new mom-and-pop store is operated by a host of family members who work alongside Vargas in the kitchen and at the counter.
Vargas, who also owns Hot Spot Video, said he wanted to open a seafood store for a long time. Although he checked into the possibility of opening out of the Paukūkalo Store location down the road, he ended up moving into the old Tom’s Mini Mart location, which became available when that business closed nine months ago.
Poke Hale Grindz is open daily from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday; and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.